When I was a child, until about 14 years old, I used to go to church on Sundays. Not every Sunday, but often enough … I think the last time or one of the last times I went was when I heard old ladies whispering and pointing at me because I was wearing a skirt. 🙄 Not what I was looking for, not that I knew back then what I was looking for.
One can argue I still do not know what I am looking for, but I am confident I will know when I find it. In the mean time, I know what I am not looking for. That!
However, in Florence I found what I was looking for when I was going to church as a child.
I found it at San Miniato al Monte Abbey, which is in the city, 20-ish minutes from home, going up most of the way, but definitely worth the climb.
The first time I went in reluctantly. I do not really go in churches anymore because I … Meh… Not impressed. Except for those from Belgium – totally in love with all the wood sculptures they have inside. Such a bliss to look at them. In Florence, the frescoes are impressive, but you can find them in almost all palaces, so… Meh.
I entered still because I was tired after walking a lot and I knew inside I could sit in quiet for a while. That is always very welcomed and for this I like churches. Only that it wasn’t quiet. The priests were singing and preaching the Mass.
Turns out it was the perfect moment and state of mind for me to be hooked. Mostly because my thoughts were all over the place and I felt I could gather myself there.
I thought about returning every day 😲 which of course I didn’t for different reasons.
Even thought the first day I didn’t wait, I found out the next day that after the Mass, the priests, monks actually, were singing Gregorian songs. Additional motivation to return at least one more time.
So, I did. I caught the Mass again. I brought stuff to draw. I do not usually take photos in churches. I have none of this one. I did two sketches though.
When the monks started singing Gregorian songs, I stopped and only listened.
Ok, now I am really coming back every day!
Two days later, I did. And I really took part in the service, sitting among the people that came for that, not on the side like a tourist. My mind was again a mess. I try to keep certain thoughts out of my head when in church just because.
[This would probably be the right moment to say I do not believe in God anymore. Let’s just say that at a certain point in life I realized that the existence of God is not necessary for the Universe to exist and that its existence wouldn’t explain anything.
I am spiritual however. Which means I do believe that we can influence each other and be influenced by the energy of others and the energy of the objects around us. And more than this, but I wanna get back to the present story 🙃 available to talk more about this over a beer, on appointment ☺️]
Getting back to the service on the third day I went there. While I was fighting to keep my demon quite (I have just one at the moment, shaped as a dove no less), this next moment arrived: everyone would turn to the people next to them, shake hands and say: “la pace sia con te”😬 Fuck! I have to do this too😬 some would just say “pace” so I went shaking their hand and say “pace” feeling… Awkward you would expect, but no! Welcomed. Everyone was smiling and shaking hands honestly. Omg! I do not know what thoughts I was fighting to keep at bay right then, but puf! Bye bye demon! A demain!
The fourth time I went, after the service and Gregorian chants, there was a concert of classical cameral music by ProCorda, an UK association that teaches music to children. It was such a bliss and I really needed such a concert since in Bucharest I had a habit of going to such concerts. So beautiful! So talented!
Not to mention that I had a major back pain from all the standing while visiting museums and when I got out I was healed. Praise the Lord! 😂 It’s the wooden benches. I need one at home 😂
The fifth time I went I was quite ok since I spent all day at Basilica San Lorenzo, drawing. ❤️ I felt so at peace. The shaking hands happened again. I wasn’t more prepared this time since I do not really understand what the monks are saying. It was just as beautiful an experience as the first time. It’s the feeling I get at Mylène’s or Gaga’s concerts. Belonging with strangers. Connection. Pure joy.
The sixth time I went I knew there was going to be a bigger service (usually it takes place in the smaller chapel) and I thought it is going to be even better. Nope. Turns out the intimacy of the small chapel is key. I didn’t stay all the way through the service, but this allowed me to discover a wonderful bar – Hangar. And it’s insane, but it is actually a spiritual place as well. 🤯
The kind of spiritual I had for the summer and left me quite… Hoping to be able to get back into meditation even after I start the new job & art project. I would love to keep the habit I got in Florence everytime I get back home. At least that I can do.
The last two times I went to the Abbey, I felt the downside of having a habit: you need more to get satisfied. 😅 Plus, I already started to know the people that also came daily. 😅 That is nice though… I used to have this feeling on the morning commute to work, back when I didn’t have a bike. 😆
However, it would be a place I would have loved to be able to go to from time to time. Especially when my mind runs wild and gets stuck and obsessive.